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Kenya police seize Somali-bound ship

Posted by Administrator on October 25, 2011

Police in Malindi have intercepted a ship in the high seas as it was heading to Kismayu in Somalia.

Malindi OCPD Wellington Choka confirmed the incident and said they were holding seven crew members of the ship for interrogation.

On Monday, Choka said the ship was spotted by marine police officers who were conducting patrols along the sea. The officers pursued the vessel and ordered it to stop.

On questioning,the crewmembers claimed they were from the port of Mombasa and were heading to Kismayu to deliver foodstuffs.

The OCPD said the ship was loaded with tealeaves but added that investigations were in ‘top gear’.

“We are questioning them to know whether it is true they were only going to sell the tea leaves as they purport or they had another mission,” he noted.

He said the ship was at the moment under police custody and that the crew was pleading to be released so that they could sail back to Mombasa.

The Government has banned any movement of people or cargo in and out of Somalia after declaring the border closed.

Choka revealed that all the seven people on board the vessel were Kenyans residing in Lamu District.

It is not clear how the ship left the port of Mombasa, whether it had declared in the manifest it was heading to Somalia and how Kenyans could travel to the war- torn country even after the border was closed.

The OCPD said security had been beefed up and urged the public to report any suspicious persons they come across.

Fishing activities along the Kenya-Somali border have been halted after Kenya Navy officials issued a 24-hour notice for fishermen to withdraw their boats as the war on Al-Shabaab intensified.

According to a source in the Navy, the notice was directed to the Provincial Administration in Lamu ordering them to ensure no fishermen ventured into the sea.

The areas where fishing has been banned include Kiwayu and Kiunga, which neighbour Ras Kamboni in Somali. The Kenyan military is said to have taken over Ras Kamboni area in Somalia as Operation Linda Nchi intensifies.

Meanwhile, the Kenya Army has dispatched 11 trucks full of heavily armed soldiers. The soldiers are heading towards Somalia via the Kiunga border point.

An officer in the convoy, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they were going to provide reinforcement to their colleagues who are already in Somali. The move, the source said, was because of claims Al-Shabaab had re-organised itself and were planning to attack Kenyan security teams.

Source: http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/InsidePage.php?id=2000045551&cid=159&

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